Can you build muscle and lose fat at the same time?
The short answer is: Yes.
Is it the best way to go about things: No.
Muscle growth and fat loss need different conditions to occur. To build muscle you need to be consistently eating at a caloric surplus.
This means you have to consume more energy than what your body expends. So that there is extra energy to use as raw material for growth.
For fat loss, you have to be at a caloric deficit. This means you have to consume less energy than what your body uses.
This allows your body to tap into the fat stores for energy.
You can see how these mechanisms are somewhat opposing in their very nature. It's like trying to fill a glass while emptying it at the same time.
But there are some scenarios in which you can achieve body recomposition (both muscle gain and fat loss at once):
1. You are a complete beginner to weight training: In this case, the training stimulus is completely new for your body and it will lead to muscular adaptations even at a caloric deficit.
2. You are extremely overweight: If you have a lot of excess bodyfat to lose, your body can tap into those fat stores for the energy it needs to build muscle.
3. You are coming back to training after a long break: The situation here is similar to that of a newbie. The training stimulus will be novel. And some adaptations will occur irrespective of your caloric intake.
4. You are on steroids or performance enhancement drugs: This is the most extreme way to manipulate body composition. It is dangerous and has debilitating long-term health implications.
Even in the above ideal scenarios, body recomposition is the slowest way to get results. The most optimal way to reach your goals would be to run fat loss and muscle building phases separately.
But if you still wish to take the recomp route, figure out your maintenance calories. And go on a slight deficit of around 150-200 calories.
Stay there and continue to progressively get stronger in your training.
Your weighing scale may not move by much during the whole process. But if you are patient enough, you will be able to successfully recomp in the long run.
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